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John Keith: I'm Miserable

The economy double dips into another recession, there's rioting in the streets. So, what? I wouldn't be happy even with a million dollars in my pocket.

I’m miserable.

I went away to the Catskills for the weekend so that we could attend a relative’s pig roast. Eh. The weather was terrible. The barbecue was almost rained out, but this didn’t make the event any less popular. My sister-in-law’s driveway was so packed that I had to back our car out to park on the street, running the rear bumper into a trailer carrying two all-terrain vehicles. Pulling the car forward to extract it ripped the wheel cover off. Oh, did I mention it was a rental car and that we had waived the collision insurance?

When I wake up at home this morning, I find out I gained seven pounds between Friday and today (how is that even possible??). I eat a brownie to make me feel better; it doesn’t. The brownie has chocolate chips in it – why does something sweet need something even sweeter in it??

Getting dressed, I am annoyed that my Levi’s are all faded out. (I guess that’s the fashion right now but I’m not 16 years old and the pants aren’t just “faded”, they’re worn out.)

I read an article in the Boston Globe about how the Museum of Fine Arts is having a party to celebrate its new Linde Family Wing opening and see that the Globe’s reporter thinks it’s too expensive, as do many of the online commenters, who are whining about everything from the event’s cost to Barack Obama (naturally) to the Globe’s publishers to … complaints about the other complainers.

I read about the London riotsStarvation in Somalia. The stock market. I ended up feeling miserable about the economy but even more annoyed that the press talked so much about the crash last week but so little about its subsequent complete recovery.

I'm miserable!

I walk out the door, there’s a cacophony of sound; a truck idling (illegally), two jackhammers. A car races around another one that has stopped to let us pedestrians through the crosswalk and almost hits me. There is a line of limousines parked in front of the Hancock tower, illegally. There are trucks for the Copley Square farmers’ market parked in the bus stop, illegally. My ATM only gives out $20s and I have $19.17 in the bank.

I make a list of people I hate. Closeted gay guys. People on cell phones. Guys wearing baseball caps to hide their receding hairlines. Women wearing sunglasses inside. The sound of high-heeled shoes. Accents. People who wear flip-flops in the rain. People who wear flip-flops. People.

I wonder why people care about celebrities, why they care about celebrities’ babies. The nakedness of celebrities’ babies. It makes me feel miserable about the state of the world.

I walk toward the Back Bay. A lady lets her dog poop in the garden outside the One Back Bay apartment complex. A guy throws his banana peel into the bushes the next block up. I confront both of them but it doesn't make me feel any better.

The barista at Starbucks is slow (I’ve come to call this “Schultz’s Law”, after the company's CEO: the higher the number of baristas, the slower the line moves, by a factor of three.) The woman next to me is eating green grapes, one by one; a guy is eating a breakfast sandwich and sipping his coffee... loudly. Lena Horne is scatting on the radio. The guy across from me annoys me because he looks like Rick Santorum (you can’t blame me for being unhappy with that). 

Oh, and have I mentioned that the real estate market is in the dumpster? You might have heard about it. Yeah, me making a living off something you can’t make a living off of is very hard. Right there, that could be my diagnosis.

Except, it’s nothing new. I’ve been miserable going back to my 20s, and even earlier. In college, a fraternity brother eating a chocolate chip cookie came up to me and said, “These are pretty good, huh?” To which I replied, “Yeah, but there aren't enough chips.” He laughed, “We knew you’d say that.” FTW!

I’ve been miserable my whole life!

I’m annoyed that other people think I use commas too often. I’m annoyed when people put apostrophes where they don’t belong (like, after another vowel, as in “comma’s”). I hate when people use “like” instead of “as."

Am I miserable or just annoyed or unhappy – do I just need medication? I ask my psychiatrist. He sidetracks me into a conversation about how to roast a pig and the cost of car insurance so he never gets around to answering.

Leaving there, I feel more miserable than when I went in. Also, more broke. Which makes me miserable.

Do I enjoy being miserable? Eh. If I could make a living off being miserable, as some have, maybe it would be worth it? I get a definite feeling about it based on how few friends I have (I can’t even get strangers to friend me on Facebook). At least, maybe I should feel happy I’m just miserable and not horrible

This is the point in the story where you usually read about the author's encounter with a mother holding her adorable, cooing baby in her arms or seeing a beautiful sunset during violet hour and how this changes his perspective on life.

Sorry, no. The mother I'm watching is letting her crying baby run up and down the aisle at CVS and the setting sun only reminds me that winter is coming and, like it, the eventual end of my life.

Writing this story, however, makes me happy – which makes me miserable.

Oh, what makes me even more miserable? I just found out the Globe ran a column just yesterday on being annoyed.

Guess how this makes me feel?

Joe Wolvek August 17, 2011 at 02:48 PM
John, the world in general does not seem to be a happy place right now. As a matter of fact, sometimes it seems downright bizarre and acid triplike (not that I would really know). But I think it's possible not to be miserable. Maybe up the meds? Just sayin'.....
Joe Wolvek August 17, 2011 at 02:51 PM
Also, w/ regard to the jeans problem, although I'm obviously a sharp, with it, edgy, hip kinda guy, I understand that the jeans I wear are apparently "dad jeans" whatever their condition. So I'm trying to figure out what kind of jeans to buy.
John Keith August 17, 2011 at 10:42 PM
At a certain age, we might have to leave our jeans days behind us ...
nancy farrington August 18, 2011 at 12:29 PM
I love this column. It made me laugh out loud. Think I'll FB it.

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